As orientation sessions approach, Boston College’s newest Eagles will start contemplating what classes to sign up for. As exciting as it is to have hundreds of interesting courses to choose from, the process is admittedly overwhelming; it can be difficult to know what classes to take, when to take them, and what professors to take them with. In an effort to alleviate some of this stress, here are some of The Gavel’s tips on how to approach the daunting process that is course selection.
Get informed about major and core requirements.
If you don’t know where to start, it can be easy to get lost in the plethora of classes available to BC students. Right off the bat, be sure to familiarize yourself with what classes, or types of classes, you will need to take during your four years here. If you are entering BC with an intended major, check out the BC website to get a sense of what classes are required for your given major, and consider registering for one or two introductory courses to get a head start.
Whether you know your major or not, look into the core requirements for your specific school. BC’s core curriculum is fairly extensive, so getting started on these classes sooner rather than later can make a difference down the road. As an extra incentive, some popular core courses are available exclusively to freshmen, such as Perspectives on Western Culture. And, if you took AP classes in high school, don’t forget to find out if your scores fulfill any core requirements to avoid taking unnecessary classes.
Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Many students change their intended major during their time at BC, and the path you currently have outlined is certainly not set in stone. Browse a wide range of classes on Agora Portal, and consider stepping outside of your comfort zone to try a class in a subject area you’re not as familiar with. Introductory courses that fulfill core requirements can be a great way to accomplish this. Go ahead and register for that microeconomics class even if you’ve never laid eyes on a supply and demand graph, or sign up for that theatre course whether or not you’re the next Meryl Streep. College is the time to try new things, and exploring a diverse set of classes is a good way to start. You might discover a whole new passion you never knew you had—at the very least, you’ll learn something about yourself and your interests.
Utilize BC PEPS.
PEPS, run by the Undergraduate Government of BC (UGBC), can serve as a helpful resource when choosing between professors for the same course. The site lists student-written evaluations of many BC professors, providing comments on each professor’s strengths and weaknesses. Checking out potential professors on PEPS can help students find a professor whose teaching style may better fit their needs. While PEPS evaluations reflect the experiences of individual students and should be taken with a grain of salt, they certainly provide useful insight into BC’s faculty.
When choosing between different class times, think about what will work best for you personally.
Before accepting well-intentioned advice to avoid morning classes at all costs or leave at least two hours between every class, for example, consider if those suggestions will fit your individual needs as a student. While there won’t always be multiple open sections of a given class to choose from, here are some questions to consider when there is more than one option.
When are you most productive?
If you are stuck choosing between the 9 a.m. or the 12 p.m. calculus class, consider what time of day you work best. Those early morning 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes will likely feel harder than they did in high school. If you’re a night owl who works productively—or procrastinates—into the wee hours of the night, a later class could be the right choice for you. Alternatively, you might be an early bird who would prefer to have all of your classes in the morning. Ultimately, no one knows you better than yourself.
Will you have time to eat lunch, grab coffee, or take a break?
Be sure to leave time to eat meals and give your mind a chance to refresh. If you have classes at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m., your stomach might start growling in the middle of lecture. Squeezing in an hour-long break to grab a sandwich or combat the afternoon slump can make it easier to pay attention and perform well in whatever class comes next.
Would you rather have classes in a row or dispersed throughout the day?
Again, this comes down to personal preference. Some people would rather spend three or four consecutive hours attending class, which leaves the rest of the day open to hit the gym or library. Others benefit from a couple hours of free time in between classes to finish up homework. Consider whether you’re the type of person to use free time during the day productively, and keep those habits in mind when forming your schedule.
Don’t stress too much.
All of these moving pieces can be confusing, and it’s virtually impossible to form a schedule with the “best” classes, times, and professors. It is also hard for soon-to-be freshmen to know how they will work and learn best as college students before they have even arrived on campus. As your time at BC progresses, you will gain a better sense of how you can be a successful student and what your academic passions are, and future schedules can be adjusted to reflect that. It is totally okay and normal not to have everything figured out yet. But, in the meantime, The Gavel hopes these tips can be helpful for those navigating the confusing scene of college classes for the first time.